16 Oct 2017

Ready – Fire – Aim, Australia’s Smoking Gun

Far too often, we come across organisations where decisions are made too quickly and without a strategic context. The old rule of “ready, fire, aim” is still prevalent in corporate Australia. The internet has not helped this thinking as the speed to market becomes a critical factor. In the end we are left with a smoking gun but where did the bullet go?

While information is more abundant than ever before, managers are intelligent information starved!

Competitive Intelligence (CI) has grown as a management discipline around the world as companies face tougher and faster competition. Competitive Intelligence in large successful multinational organisations is becoming a “must have” rather than a “nice to have”. In fact recent studies from the USA indicate that budgets for CI now range up to and over US$4 million per annum and that rates of return can be as high as 4000%.

In the past, Australian businesses have been slow to practise effective Competitive Intelligence. One reason we believe, is because they think it is something else, another buzzword, another soft option, another ‘be seen to do’ activity which consumes time and profit. Today, some are beginning to realise it is the opposite, a strict discipline that selects and delivers the right intelligence to support key decision-makers, a discipline focused on optimising time and profit. An example is one client who measures the value of business intelligence simply in dollars – an identified new market worth to them at around A$100 million.

Another reason why companies have been slow to pick it up, is that many Australian companies think they are already practising Competitive Intelligence. CI is not paper shuffling, having the most expensive database or the most efficient data distribution. CI is also not market research or strategic planning. It is an approach which focuses these and all marketing, analytical and planning functions on one outcome, maximising the company’s competitiveness.

So what is this CI discipline that helps you be “aim” first? Competitive Intelligence is concerned with the methods organisations use to monitor their competition, their own competitive position, and to improve their competitiveness. It is about the techniques used to select and filter information, to interpret and analyse it, to communicate it to the right people, and to use it effectively. Although all managers intuitively carry out some form of CI, the information explosion, changing technology, and increasing global competitive pressures mean that there is an increasing need to develop more systematic ways of using CI.

The major focus in the process is not just the identification of sources of information but what method of analysis will be used to turn the information into intelligence. There are over 170 methods of analysis in business and picking the appropriate methodology is critical to delivering value at the end. It is through analysis that intelligence is created.

The intelligence process works best however within a strategic framework where individuals and organisations can look ahead with all the means at their disposal, interpret what they find and integrate these understandings into a continuous cycle or process of competitive ability. The keys to the future are not found through extrapolations, predictions or media gurus, but through patient, careful strategic work. You need to be ready and take careful aim at the specific target before you fire.

A strategic plan that doesn’t include insight about the near future is next to useless. Yesterday’s information and methods are increasingly ineffective for making today’s decisions – and even less effective for identifying tomorrow’s opportunities, problems, and unknown competitors. The purpose is not to predict the future, but to make better decisions about the future.

The value of foresight is early awareness. This reality check enables you to recognize and monitor the future as it unfolds, thereby reducing risk and minimizing mistakes. Costly mistakes by managers firing from the hip, is no longer an option. The issue is often that managers today faced with so many pressures are unsure of the specific target sometimes seeking only short-term gains.

The systems for identifying these warning signs is totally different than yesterday’s methodology. For example, business respects and relies on traditional information. Statistics, facts, concrete data. This hard or secondary information is retrospective and most useful for quantifying what has occurred. But it is increasingly unreliable and inaccurate for revealing the future in a rapidly changing environment.

Another problem is that of asking the right questions. Experience has shown this to be one of the hardest steps for senior management.  The key is to ensure there is understanding of what the “intelligence customer” really wants, where they are coming from, and how the intelligence will be directly related to a management decision or course of action.

Too many times, intelligence projects fall over because of the poor identification and understanding of the key issue and its relationship to the business. If managers can’t identify the target, how can they be prepared to take aim and be successful?

Success comes from hard work and careful planning, and it does not come overnight. The realities of making this work means we need to understand the competitive landscape before we fire, and incorporate this understanding and insight for competitive management. How your organisation prepares its competitive gun, in essence, will provide you with either a strategic advantage — or kindle the demise of your organisation.

Today, Competitive Intelligence is not negotiable. Can you afford to fire first?

02 Oct 2017

Who Is Your Competition?

  • Other organisations offering the same product or service now?
  • Other organisations offering similar products or services now?
  • Organisations that could offer the same or similar products or services in the future?
  • Organisations that could remove the need for a product or service?

So who is your competition really? This question seems so simple however a company that defines its competitive set too narrowly can miss disruptive attackers and high potential growth opportunities. Just take a look at Blockbuster, Nokia and Kodak. They were all market leaders who fell pray to either disruptive technology or market changes. How can your company avoid a similar fate?

Let me guide you:

1. Define your target/objective

Far too often, organisations make decisions too quickly and without a strategic context — it is a case of ‘ready, fire, aim’ The internet has not helped this mindset, as the speed to market has become a more critical factor. Understand what you are looking to maximise.

2. Ask the right question or questions

Experience has shown that ‘asking the right question’ is one of the hardest steps for management. The key here is to understand what your business really wants, and how the insights uncovered will directly relate to a management decision or course of action

3. Manage information effectively

The next driver for understanding what you have and don’t have within the business needs to come from studying the forces at work on your business’s competitive ability. These forces include competitors, technology, consumers, new entrants, industry trends and so on. Getting information on these forces is the first step in becoming knowledgeable about your competitive environment.

4. Analyse for insight and intelligence

A strategic plan that doesn’t include insight about the near future is truly next to useless. Yesterday’s information and methods are increasingly ineffective for making today’s decisions — and even less effective for identifying tomorrow’s opportunities, problems and unknown competitors.

The value of insight is early awareness, as it enables you to recognise and monitor the future as it unfolds, thereby reducing risk and minimising mistakes.

Today, managers are faced with many pressures — they may sometimes seek only short-term gains — but costly mistakes from managers making uninformed decisions are no longer an option.

 Today, competing effectively is not just understanding existing competitors and the current business environment. It is strategically about having a picture of what the future business environment will look like and addressing the questions I posed at the start.

How your business prepares for the future will provide you with either a strategic advantage — or the demise of your business. The most critical strategic issue for a business is its competitiveness.

Looking for a mentor in strategy and competition for you business or division? Give us a call (02) 9411 3900 or email us here!

18 Sep 2017

How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: 7 Powerful Habits

When you get stuck in the habit of trying to please other people pretty much all the time then it can have a sneaky and negative effect.

Not only on you but also on the people around you.  Because as you try to please:

  • You put on a mask and try to guess what to do while getting anxious and stressed.
  • You sometimes feel taken advantage off by others who use your people pleasing habit and you often feel out of tune with what you yourself deep down want.
  • It can also have an unintended effect on other people as they may see through your mask, start to feel your inner discomfort and stress themselves and get confused or upset because they sense you are not being honest and straightforward with them.

So being a people pleaser is often an even worse choice that one may at first think.

But how can you change this behavior and break the habit?

This week I’d like to share 7 powerful insights and habits that have helped me with that.

1. Realize that with some people it isn’t about you and what you do (no matter what you do).

Some people just can’t be pleased. No matter what you do. Because it’s not about what you do or do not do. It’s about him or her.

By realizing this and how you in the end can’t get everyone to like you or avoid conflict no matter what you do, you can start to let go of this ineffective and damaging habit.

2. Learn how to say no.

It’s of course hard to say no.  But it is vital for you own happiness, stress-levels and for living the life you truly want.

Here are 5 things that have made it easier for me to say no more often:

  • Disarm and state your need. It’s easier for people to accept your no if you disarm them first. Do that by, for instance, saying that you’re flattered or that you appreciate the kind offer. Then add that you, for example, simply don’t have the time for doing what they want.
  • If they’re pushy, add how you feel. Say that you don’t feel that this offer is a good fit for your life right now. Or that you feel overwhelmed and very busy and so you cannot do whatever they want. Telling someone how you honestly feel can help them to understand your side of the issue better. And it’s also a lot harder to argue with how you feel rather than what you think.
  • Help out a bit. If possible, finish your reply with recommending someone that you think could help out or would be a better fit for what they need. I do this quite often when I feel I lack the knowledge or experience that a reader or a friend is looking for.
  • Remind yourself why it is important to sometimes say no: You teach people by how you behave. They learn about you and your boundaries from your behavior. So if you stand up for yourself and say no and are assertive about what you don’t want then people will start to pick up on that. And over time you’ll encounter fewer and fewer situations where someone tries to be pushy or steamroll you.
  • It’s OK to feel a bit guilty about saying no (but you don’t have to act on it). Just feel it and be with that feeling for a while. But at the same time know that it doesn’t mean that you have to act on it and say yes or do what they want you to do.

3. People don’t really care that much about what you say or do.

Holding yourself back in life and trying to act in a way that is pleasing to others can, in my experience, come from a belief that people care a great deal about what you say or do.

But the truth is that while you may be the main character in your own life and head you’re not that in other people’s lives.  Because here’s the thing: people have their hands full with thinking and worrying about their own lives. They have their heads full with thoughts about their kids, career, pets, hobbies, dreams and worries or thoughts about what others may think of them.

This realization can make you feel less important. But it can also set you free.

4. Learn how to handle criticism and verbal lash outs (and the fear of that).

Sometimes it’s simply about the other person and his or her situation in life right now and not about what you did or did not do.  A few more things that help me to handle negative or critical messages are:

  • Wait before you reply. Take a couple of deep breaths in a conversation or a few minutes if you’re in front of your inbox. By doing so you’ll reduce the risk of lashing out yourself or making a mistake. Calming yourself down a bit before replying is pretty much always a good idea.
  • Remember: you can let it go. You don’t have to reply to all the negative messages you may get via email, social media or in real life. You can just say nothing, let it go and move on. This does of course not work in every situation but it’s important to remember that you from time to time do have this option.
  • It’s OK to disagree. This took me time to really get. Because I wanted to get people to my side. To make someone see things the way I did. But it’s also OK to simply have different opinions about things. And to leave it at that. I found that life became lighter and simpler when I started to accept this idea and perspective.

5. Set boundaries for yourself.

If you say no to yourself, if you set a few firm boundaries for yourself then it will, over time, become easier to do the same towards other people too. And these boundaries can also help you to focus better on what matters the most to you.

A couple of my daily ones that have helped me with both of those things are:

  • A start-time and a stop-time for work. I don’t work before 8 in the morning and my work computer is shut off – at the latest – at 7 in the evening.
  • Work in a no-distraction zone. I keep email notifications and messaging programs off. And my smart phone is on silent mode at the other end of our apartment.
  • Only check email once a day. Otherwise it’s easy for me to lose focus and to have too many thoughts swirling around in my mind while working.

6. Strengthen your self-esteem.

Why’s this important?

As you value yourself, your time, and your energy more, it becomes more natural to say no when you need to.  And criticism and negative words will bounce off of you more easily and more often.

Plus, you’ll be less concerned about getting everyone else to like you all the time. Because now you like and respect yourself more and your dependency upon what others may think or say, drops drastically.

7. Keep your focus on what YOU want out of your life.

If you know what’s most important to you and you keep your focus on that each day then you’ll naturally start to say no and stop being so people pleasing. Because now your energy and time is mostly focused on your needs and wants.

You’re not just drifting along anymore without a clear focus (which is great because when you lack that then it’s easy to fall into the trap of just going along with what someone else wants).

So how do you do this practically?

Well, fine-tuning what you want deep down might take some time. But a good start is this…

  • Ask yourself: what’s the top 3 most important things in my life right now? It could be your small business. Your family. Your career, health, dog, photography hobby, soccer, improving your social life or simplifying your home. Or something else.
  • Create 1-3 reminders. Write down your top 3 most important things on a small piece of paper. And put it on your bedside table so you see it first thing every morning. You can also create 2 more notes with the same answers to for instance put on your fridge and in your workspace.

These simple steps have helped me a lot to keep my priorities straight and to remind myself every day not to drift too much from what matters the most to me.

04 Sep 2017

Emotional First Aid

It really is amazing how we are all taught about hygiene and physical first aid – you know what to do when your hands are dirty before handling food, or when someone has scrapped their knee, all the way to CPR – yet we are never trained or educated in providing emotional first aid for our thoughts and feelings such as how to handle stress, negative environments, difficult relationships and so on.

As our thoughts and feelings control so much of our daily existence, it makes sense to learn some emotional first aid.

In this article I want to start with those pesky negative thoughts and emotions. You know the ones that won’t go away and keep going around in your head!

There are times for all of us when we experience anger, grief, anxiety, stress, remorse, embarrassment or any of the range of negative emotions. Life is not always easy and in those trying times we struggle mentally with our thoughts and emotions, trying to talk our way out of them, or possibly trying to distract ourselves with activities or trying to drown it out with food, or drink or something even stronger.

Interestingly all these paths perpetuate negativity in the long run. So what can you do? How can you stop those negative thoughts and feelings?

How about instead of trying to suppress them, you turn your attention inwards?

I use this great little 4 step process to help deal with negative thoughts and emotions. It is called RAIN.

RAIN stands for –

R Recognise

A Allow

I investigate

N Non-identification

Recognise

The first step is to recognise and name what is happening and what you are feeling. “I am feeling stressed” or “I am feeling overwhelmed”. Stop for a moment and tune into the present moment of what is happening in your body and mind – the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations. Don’t inhibit what is happening, or suppress it, or ignore it or try to conquer it. Instead develop an attitude of open curiosity and acceptance.

Acknowledge that the emotion is there.

By recognising and naming what you are feeling you are giving yourself the space to care for yourself.

Allow

The acknowledgement and acceptance of your feelings and thoughts provides a sense of permission to allow life to be just as it is. Allowing doesn’t mean we have to like the situation however it does soften or drop our mental resistance to what is happening. You can embrace or hold the feeling in your awareness, which in turn can calm and soothe you.

This step is so important as we generally have an unconscious impulse to push away, suppress or ignore difficult emotions. When we engage in this inner struggle we unwittingly create more suffering and tension.

By allowing yourself to accept your present emotions and thoughts without judgment, you will almost immediately have a sense of softening and ease around the emotion, as you will have created a mental space around it. You are now witnessing your emotion rather than being enmeshed by it.

This is then an act of self-compassion.

Investigate

Now that you are calmer and allowing yourself to sit with whatever negative thought or emotion you may be experiencing, you can ask yourself questions like “Why do I feel this way?” “Where did this feeling come from?” “What is it that I really need?”

Ask what event may have triggered the feeling. Or are there physical factors such as lack of sleep. It may be that particular kinds of thoughts were the cause – worrying about something or someone, ruminating over a comment a colleague made last week, and so on. You may also find that you have particular values or beliefs of how things should be that may have contributed to your negative feelings.

By asking these questions and investigating where the negativity comes from, we can develop a truly insightful relationship with our emotions and thoughts. And as time goes by, we can even resolve and dissolve some of the negative thoughts or emotions.

Non-Identification

This step is the simple realisation that you are not your mind or your emotions. You are the awareness that lies beneath every thought, emotion and sense perception.

Non-identification means that you are truly not defined by your thoughts and emotions. This brings a sense of freedom and ease, and at the heart of it all a sense of peace.

Remember that no matter how intense or painful the emotional storm, there is always a part of you, which is still, silent and untouched.

The RAIN method can be used anytime you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or out of touch. It helps to centre you during challenging times.

As Eckhart Tolle said, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists”.

To learn more about the RAIN method, read the works of Tara Brach such as http://www.mindful.org/tara-brach-rain-mindfulness-practice/. Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist and author of “True Refuge: Finding Peace & Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.”

 

 

 

15 Aug 2017

The Heart of Entrepreneurship

So you want your business to be more entrepreneurial and your employees more innovative and productive? But what does that really mean to you? I suspect that you want your employees to still provide the service and quality on which you have and are building your reputation but with the added ability to add value to your business without you having to be there all the time to tell them how.

So how do you go about creating a more innovative and entrepreneurial environment?

Firstly we need to understand what entrepreneurship means. The press often define the term as starting and operating a new business. Managers on the other hand describe entrepreneurship in such terms as innovative, flexible, dynamic, risk taking, creative and growth oriented and these views are often used to describe the success of organisations such as Apple Computer, Google and General Electric.

However none of these definitions are precise enough for managers wishing a more entrepreneurial organisation. For every successful company there are thousands of new restaurants, clothing stores, and consulting firms who have tried to be innovative, creative and growth oriented – yet have failed.

So how can you be different? How can you make innovation, flexibility and creativity operational? To help answer these questions, we need to look at entrepreneurial behaviour.

Numerous writers on the topic suggest that the best approach is to view managerial behaviour in terms of extremes. At one extreme you have the entrepreneur who feels confident of his or her ability to seize opportunities, expecting surprises and the need to adjust to changes, with the ability to make the most of these changes and to make things happen. At the other extreme, you have the administrator who is fearful of change and the unknown and whose inclination is to bring things back to the way they were.

Most of us exist between these two extremes and research has shown that there is a close relationship between opportunity and individual needs. Companies of all sizes have difficulty in encouraging entrepreneurship when the individual’s needs and the company’s interest do not coincide. It is not an easy task.

The pressures that push a company to either end of the scale are often determined by factors of timing and resources coupled with personal, organisational and competitive forces.

However, the difference in approaches becomes apparent in response to the following questions.

Where is the opportunity for my business?

The first step to identify an opportunity requires a market or external approach rather than an internal or resource approach. It is important to remember here that most readily available information is generalised and intended to inform in a general way. Rarely is generalised information, which just about anyone can access, tailored enough to support business decision making, which has to occur in the context of a particular company’s situation.

The entrepreneur however is attuned to environmental changes, constantly scanning information, which may provide a favourable opportunity, while the administrator seeks to preserve resources and reacts defensively to possible threats.

Administratively oriented companies approach new opportunities more cautiously, while successful market oriented businesses are aware that change is inevitable and therefore keep their organisations learning.

Entrepreneurs are however not just opportunistic gamblers. They are also creative and innovative. They many not necessarily break new ground but perhaps may mix old ideas in such a way as to provide new services or applications. Some new software companies for example are simply altering slightly existing technology or repackaging it to accommodate new perceived market segments.

What resources do I have and how do I control them?

Necessity is the mother of invention and many people who start a business make imaginative use of their limited resources. An engineer may discover selling skills which she or he never knew they possessed or a restaurant owner may quickly adjust to waiting on tables. Most of the risk in entrepreneurial management lies in the effort to pursue opportunities with inadequate or inappropriate resources.

The only control that an entrepreneur needs from a resource is the ability to use it while an administrator believes that resources are inadequately controlled unless they are owned or on the payroll. Using external resources as required is in itself an opportunity to maintain costs while providing a service equal to or better than larger competitors. Entrepreneurs learn to use other people’s resources well while keeping the option open on bringing them in-house.

A small publishing company may hire a free lance to make editorial improvements, or contract with a typesetting company or binding company and even contract with a public relations firm to sell the book to stores. There is no need therefore to control all the resources necessary.

It should be remembered however that apart from the effective allocation of scarce resources, successful entrepreneurs seek plateaux of success where they can consolidate their gains before moving to pursue further opportunities. It is important, when possible, to pause to give both employees and internal systems time to adjust. This may not always be possible however as booming markets often don’t allow growing companies the luxury of a pause.

What structure is best?

In organising business, there is a distinct difference between the entrepreneur and the administrator. The entrepreneur tries to “feel” the way events are unfolding. The administrator on the other hand views organisational relationships more formally ie rights, responsibilities and authority.

Power and status, expressed in a hierarchy and financial rewards, push companies towards the administrative end with the control of the resources also influencing the approach to a business operation.

Businesses that use or rent resources by necessity develop informal networks both internally and externally from which new opportunities may be gleaned.

It is up to individual companies to allow favourable conditions for entrepreneurship to flourish. That means encouraging the pursuit of opportunity, the most appropriate commitment and use of resources and the breakdown of hierarchy. These goals are not that easy to reach particularly if your company needs to be turned around.

It is much easier and safer for companies to stay with the familiar than to explore the unknown. Only by encouraging change and experimentation can companies of all sizes adapt and grow in the midst of uncertainty.

 

07 Aug 2017

Outperforming Competitors

Most organizations today are not structured or organized properly to make good decisions that will help them outperform their competition in the marketplace.

 The benefits gained by successfully anticipating a competitor’s future plans and strategies are generally self-evident. The consequences of making decisions based on information that is incomplete, inaccurate, or late are as severe.

Today’s managers face an abundance of information in their decision-making contexts, and sometimes this information abundance causes them to be paralyzed. Much information arriving to top managers is biased, distorted, subjective, filtered, and/or late.

Modern Competitive Intelligence (CI) practitioners are stimulated by using their unique set of skills, knowledge, abilities, and instincts to uncover relationships that enable their organizations to compete more effectively. Most CI practice includes a heavy dose of analytical capabilities.

CI can be described as the process by which organizations gather information about competitors and the competitive environment and, ideally, apply it to their planning processes and decision-making in order to improve their enterprise’s performance.

CI links signals, events, perceptions, and data into discernible patterns and trends concerning the business and competitive environment. CI can be simple scanning, such as analyzing a company’s annual report and other public documents, or elaborate, such as performing a fully digitized, multi-day war -gaming exercise.

 Decision makers are charged with answering a small number of very powerful questions about their organization, including the following:

  1. What is our current status or situation?
  2. What are our options?
  3. In which direction (-s) do we want to go?
  4. Which direction can and should we go?
  5. How can we effectively get to where we have decided we are going?
  6. How will we know that we have reached our desired goal (-s)?

 

 Answering these questions is the foundation for a competitive intelligence practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Jul 2017

HOW HIGH CAN YOU JUMP?

A flea can jump up 7 inches (18 cm) and sideways 13 inches (33 cm) or about two hundred times the length of their own body! For you that would be about 200 times your height (900 feet)!

If you wanted to train a flea to perform in a flea circus, you find a short drinking glass. Find a bunch of healthy fleas (be creative!), put them in the container and cover the top. Don’t take the cover off for three days. When you do, you’ll see the flea only jumps as tall as the glass was and never again further! (This goes for their next generation of fleas too.)

Application for YOU – Do you have any unsuspected “flea training” in your life that whispers: “You can’t jump that high! Don’t even try!” Your history doesn’t create your future …(sometimes it can help), but sometimes it limits you in ways you’re blind to.

We all have choices in our lives – day to day choices, life choices, choices about our friends (we can’t choose our families – although we can choose how to behave/react with them!), choices about how we show up at work, our attitudes, our thoughts even our beliefs.  And the more coaching I do, the more I see how much we limit our choices to staying in the ‘safe’ zone (under that glass!).

Often times we become blind to the myriad of choices that are available to us as well as the range of options before us.

Why is that so?

The key element that defines our choices is our thinking.  Our thinking in turn is driven by the “personal” energy we have.

Our personal energy is affected by the sum of all of our life’s experiences. Our learning, beliefs, values, principles, emotional scars, and even our mother’s favourite sayings all aggregate together and help form the filters through which we view and live life.

For example, if your life’s experiences taught you to be overly cautious and fearful, then, when presented with a challenge, you will see that challenge through cautious and fearful eyes, and act accordingly.

Our personal energy is created by the interplay of catabolic and anabolic energy which drives our choices, our ability to change, and our ability to maximise our current strengths.

What do I mean by this?

Catabolic energy = destructive, contracting, resisting energy (cat = down, against)

Anabolic energy = constructive, expanding, fueling energy (ana = building, upward)

Both types of energies are valuable and applicable in certain areas of life.  Catabolic energy is necessary for immediate survival needs. If you were attacked by a lion, for instance, you’d want the burst of adrenaline and cortisol (catabolic hormones) to help you run as fast as you could.  As a short-term survival/coping mechanism, catabolic energy can work well.  Long term it is destructive and unsustainable.

Anabolic energy looks and feels different from catabolic energy. This energy is behind everything from creativity and intuition to compassion and caring. This type of energy fuels your body, your performance, your perceptions and choices, and your interactions.

The more anabolic, powerful energy you have, the more capacity, or potential, you have to achieve whatever it is you wish to do, and also, the more satisfaction you will experience in your life.

So is this the year that you will choose to take steps to create the life you want…and jump way before your height?

If you’re looking for a new direction, or to make those goals that seem so elusive become reality do this quick checklist. Yes, it’s simple, but take your time (reflect on where your thinking and judgments may be coming from) – maybe over your next cup of coffee.

Quick checklist to start the new financial year – list the three key items for each question:

  • What am I proud of accomplishing over the past year?
  • What didn’t I do that is still outstanding?
  • What am I most pleased with?
  • What am I most disappointed with? (don’t dwell on this – just note it down, it’s important to face your ‘failures’ and deal with them)
  • What would I like truly like to achieve this year in my:
    • Work life
    • Personal life
    • Health and Physical Goals

These aspects of your life are intertwined and will each impact on the other.

  • How will I make these become reality and am I ready to do this?

Taking the first step is the hardest but it is your choice whether you take that first step and the next one.

If you identify with the above, then I invite you as a valued reader, to chat to me over a coffee, in person, by phone or Skype and let’s see if you are ready to make your goals become reality THIS YEAR!

Any groundless or unrealistic beliefs will limit your energy and prevent you from achieving your goals – just like the lid on the flea training glass!

Working with a coach may help you leap even higher and in a coaching program, you can:

Consider your goals and aspirations

  1. Identify old assumptions holding you back
  2. Isolate and evaluate established, but unfounded and untested beliefs about your ability to achieve these goals
  3. Search for doubts about your worthiness to reach your goals
  4. Hunt for fears that may be lingering in your heart

 

My goal is to work with people for change – one person at a time.  What is yours?

 

 

 

 

 

17 Jul 2017

The One Constant In Our Life Is Change

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case. WATCH THIS VIDEO BELOW!

 

03 Jul 2017

What Is Your Fear?

Are you pursing the goals that matter most to you?

Are you satisfied with your level of success?

Are you glad to be where you are in life?

Are you playing YOUR own game or are you playing someone else’s game?

Everything seems hard. We are all busy and we are all tired. We all don’t have enough money. We all know someone who says we can’t or that we would never make it. And then we are worried with what comes next. Are these excuses familiar to you?

What about these –

  • Fear of change
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Waiting for something to happen
  • Perfectionism
  • Being overwhelmed with all that you have to do
  • Not knowing how

 

Well guess what – there is a battle going on….. and it is between your ears!!

Don’t surrender!

While your fears may be real they are not good enough reasons for inaction. Your biggest work is in front of you.

One of the most powerful, definitely frightening, and certainly most challenging actions we can take is to be fully responsible for who we are, how we behave and how we want to live our life.

It’s so much easier to blame others when things go wrong, when you get angry, upset or fearful when nothing seems to go right. When your boss avoids you, your partner abuses you or your family puts you down. But how would it be if you could take control – and turn this around? Powerful? – yes, and it’s all in your hands.

So here are some tips to help you overcome your excuses.  They are not in any particular order. Some are quick solutions and others take work –

 

  • Identify your goal and embrace it. Use this question as a start. What do you want the change to look like? How will that give your life meaning? Think about it – even go for a walk to reflect on it.

 

  • Create the space – even a small space (or time) to make a change.

 

  • Be accountable to someone while surrounding yourself with others making similar changes themselves.

 

  • Get help and insight to uncover and understand the core of the fear that is holding you back.

 

  • Take small steps that will move you forward. Movement begets movement. Now take another small step…… and change is created.

 

I find that most of my clients have difficulty addressing their fears because, in the end, it might show how vulnerable they really feel. However if we don’t understand what is holding us back how can we then create the lives we truly desire.

You know by letting any of your worries (also known as fears) out into the light and talking about it with someone who understands, it becomes a whole lot easier to see the situation or issue for what it really is.

Just venting can make a huge difference to your perspective.

If you don’t have anyone to talk to at the moment write it out. It means you get your issue out of your head, clarify your thoughts and find clarity in the small steps available to you to move forward.

Choose to no longer go along with the ride. It is your turn to drive. Choose your own route and own what comes of it.

It is really time to decide what you intend to do next and what the next few years will mean to you. Self leadership is all about leading the life you want, while energised for success!

 

About the Author

For over 25 years Babette Bensoussan has served as an advisor to organisations and business leaders around the world. A recognised global authority on Competitive Intelligence, and one of the most published authors and well-regarded speakers in her field, Babette brings valuable insights to entrepreneurs, business leaders and senior executives.

If you want some support to overcome your fear or just want to touch base, email me today!

15 Jun 2017

The New Supercompetitors

Since the mid-1990, the source of competitive advantage has been shifting.  Leading companies used to be diverse conglomerates that based their competitive strategy on assets, positions, and economies of scale. Today’s market leaders, by contrast, are more focused enterprises. If you aspire to become a supercompetitor, WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:


If you haven’t done your analysis, maybe you might want to look at some techniques in my book here

15 Jun 2017

Competing with free

While some may only grudgingly admit it, competition is good for business. The presence of competitors means that there are plenty of paying customers around. Also, by creating choice, competition forces you to compete for your customers’ attention and money, which, in turn, improves your focus on what it is that makes your business and its products unique and valuable to your customers.

Equally, competition results in better business practices. By watching what your competitors do, you can learn about their business and, in turn, learn how to make your business more efficient. Having competitors in the market means you must continually stay one step ahead, which has a very positive impact on innovation and consumer demand.

But not all competition is good – or, at least, certain types of competition can be very bad for business.

The most dangerous competitor is one whose primary competitive tool appears to be aggressive price competition, either rapidly moving prices down or, worse, selling products or services below cost, in an apparent effort to win sales volume.

How can your business compete with an ‘irrational’ competitor who offers equivalent products or service below cost or for free?

The first step is to return to the basics of competitive strategy, which is defining your business goals and objectives. As Michael Porter has observed:

“Economic value is created when customers are willing to pay a price for a product or service that exceeds the cost of producing it. When goals are defined in terms of volume or market share leadership, with profits assumed to follow, poor strategies often result.”

Smart businesses shoot for margin, not sales volumes and market share. While huge top-line numbers might appear more impressive, Year 9 maths belies the myth of market share: it is just as profitable to sell 1,000 widgets for $50 with a $5 margin as it is to sell 5000 widgets for $20 with a $1 margin.

Where you face intense (even irrational) price competition from one or more competitors, it is important to refocus your efforts on developing a value proposition that delivers a benefit, or set of benefits, that is different from that of your competitors and that creates unique value for a key set of customers.

Refocusing your efforts to target consumer segments for which you are able to create unique value, or which fall outside those segments targeted by price-driven competitors, will require strict discipline.

Usually it will involve making a series of trade-offs, such as ceasing development of certain product features, or abandoning certain market activities. The end objective is redefining your value proposition to avoid head-to-head competition with price-oriented competitors, and shifting your focus to those customers’ needs for which you have a competitive advantage in addressing.

It is also important to understand the underlying cause of the competitor’s apparent ‘irrationality’. It may be that the competitor is merely responding to competitive moves by other businesses – including, perhaps, yours.

You should review your recent market initiatives to determine whether they triggered the problematic response. You should also review how you are communicating your business’s strategy to the broader market.

Very few business leaders are, in fact, irrational, and if your competitors are able to mark out a discrete section of the market to play in, without going into head-to-head competition, they usually will.

Adapted from ” Competing with Free” by Mark Neely.

 

01 Jun 2017

The Survival Manager’s Guide to Competitive Insights

For years companies have been establishing competitive intelligence (CI) capability to watch their external environment and provide early warning of threats and opportunities.  While establishing such units is more relevant than ever in these times of rapid change, many units are being eliminated while others aren’t providing the value that had originally been hoped for.   The unfortunate result is that companies have stopped watching their external environment at a time when their businesses could most benefit from the insights and early warning that true CI can provide.

Why CI endeavours may fail

The reason that many of these so-called CI units fail is because they were never intelligence units to begin with; they were data collecting teams.  Almost anyone in an organisation can collect data.  Intelligence, on the other hand, is forward-looking and decision-relevant.  It provides early analysis of emerging trends so that management can begin to act before events force them to.

With good intelligence capability, executives can begin to anticipate, rather than react to, the events that are taking place in the external environment.  Companies with effective intelligence capabilities say their CI units have generated millions of dollars in increased revenues or cost savings – easily offsetting the costs of running these units.

The difference between the teams that succeed and those that do not, is the ability to establish an ongoing dialogue with top management about upcoming decisions.  Those CI teams who fail to establish this dialogue, often guess the decisions management is facing and deliver information that is not relevant or useful.  Further, if a CI unit is buried deep within an organisation, it will never establish this type of strategic dialogue with its users – unfortunately, this is where the majority of intelligence efforts begin.

Can You Survive?

If your company has a CI unit, and if you are part of this unit, ask yourself the following:

  • Does the unit delivery unique insights that can’t easily be found elsewhere?
  • Does the unit deliver forward-looking analysis that directly supports management decisions?
  • How often does the unit deliver information that has already been published on a website or other medium?
  • If the unit were eliminated tomorrow, how easily could the organisation adjust?

If your CI unit doesn’t fare well against these criteria, the odds are against its long-term survival.  Both management and the CI team should start taking steps to keep it alive.

Survival Tips

To survive, keep the following rules in mind:

  • Ask yourself what future decisions will the CI unit support – not what kinds of information it should collect. Decision-relevance is critical to the unit’s survival.
  • Place the unit where it can have ready access to the decision makers that it will support.
  • Staff the unit with experienced professionals who can function on a peer level with users of intelligence.
  • Don’t task the unit with collecting only published information or other data that can easily be found elsewhere.

Those who follow these few rules will go a long way to ensuring that their competitive intelligence unit will survive and provide tangible value and return on investment.  Those who do not will be fighting the odds against the unit’s long-term survival.

 

 

 

09 May 2017

The Paradox Of Choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied. This is a wonderful video on the power of choice, watch it now.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                 

09 May 2017

Choose: One habit At A Time

We all struggle with our habits — sticking to them, staying motivated, getting started, dealing with disruptions, it can become a big struggle.

And yet, to change our habits is to change our lives. If we can’t make habit changes, we will be stuck in our current way of doing things, which might not be so helpful.

If you want to lose weight, beat procrastination, write a book, get fit, live mindfully … you have to develop habits.

Luckily, the process is simpler than most people realize. Simple, not easy: you have to be committed and really want to make the change. Otherwise you’ll just quit when things get difficult.

Here’s the first thing to keep in mind: just choose one habit for now. Yes, you’ll want to change a bunch of things. Don’t ignore my advice. Later, you can form more, but for now, focus on just one.

With that in mind, follow these simple steps:

1. Start super small. I’ve said this a million times on this blog, so you might gloss over this one — but don’t. It’s the most important thing. Do one habit at a time, and do it super small. How small? Just meditate for 2 minutes. Just write for 5 minutes. Just do 5 pushups or 5 sun salutations. Just eat one vegetable a day. If you start small, you remove the resistance to starting, which is the hardest part. I used to tell myself, “Just put on your shoes and get out the door,” and that’s how I formed my running habit, and I ended up running several marathons and an ultramarathon because of this small habit. For meditation, I tell myself, “Just get your butt on the cushion.” For drawing, just get out your pad & pencil.

2. Remove choice. Don’t think about it — make a decision ahead of time to do it every day at the same time for at least a month, then each day, don’t make it a decision. Just start. Have a trigger that’s already in your daily life (like waking up, or showering, brushing your teeth, starting the coffee maker, eating lunch, whatever) and use that as the trigger for an when/then statement: “When I wake up, I’ll meditate for 2 minutes.” Put written reminders near where the trigger happens. The main point is: make the decision to do it every day, and then just do it without thinking.

3. Get some accountability. Have at least one person you report to — an accountability partner. Or a group of friends. Or a walking/running partner. It doesn’t matter how you set it up, but having someone to report to means you are much more likely to push yourself past resistance when it comes up.

4. Make it fun, find gratitude. Don’t just do the habit as if it were a chore. See if you can enjoy it. How can you make it fun, play, joyous? Can you find gratitude in the middle of your workout? The habit is much more likely to stick if you focus on the parts you enjoy, rather than mindlessly try to check it off your to-do list.

5. Be committed. Why are you doing this habit? Reflect on this during the first week, as you do the habit. What deeper reason do you have? Are you doing this habit to help others? As an act of self-love, so that you can be healthier or happier? If you’re just doing it because you think you should, or because it sounds cool, you won’t really push past the resistance.

You can start with just the first item above, but I would recommend adding as many of the other four as you can during your first week or two, because you’ll be increasing your odds of success with each one.

This is doable. You can change your old ways by consciously doing something new repeatedly, until it’s a habit. Take small steps to get started, remove choice so you don’t think about whether to start or not, get some accountability and understand your motivation so you push past resistance, and find gratitude in the midst of the action.

One habit, done daily. Small steps with intention, support and a smile. It can make all the difference in the world.

Source: This above article was written by Leo Babauta, “The 5 Keys To Forming Any Habit”, April 21, 2017.

24 Apr 2017

Top 10 Self-Limiting Beliefs

…that silently sabotages us in life…

1. I’m too old

2. I’m not smart enough

3. I am not educated enough

4. I’m afraid of trying and failing

5. You have to have money to make money

6. I’ve already tried everything

7. I can’t do that

8. I don’t feel I really deserve it

9. I’ll never be able to do that

10. All the good ones are taken

Maybe you can relate to some these statements? If you are subtly making yourself a victim by your unconscious thought, try exchanging some of the things you say by more positive, actionable and responsible things which gives you control. You can choose.

Some positive statements:

1. I’m too old – You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream

2. I’m not smart enough – I am good enough. I am smart and I can do anything I put my mind too

3. I am not educated enough – I am intelligent enough to succeed

4. I’m afraid of trying and failing – Yes I might fail but I don’t try, I’ll never know

5. You have to have money to make money – Just start, take actions, embrace uncertainty and create your future

6. I’ve already tried everything – Try again or try something new

7. I can’t do that – What have you done successfully in the past?

8. I don’t feel I really deserve it – Am I being fair saying that?

9. I’ll never be able to do that – Well never is a long time.

10. All the good ones are taken – They are still lots of interesting and kind people out there

 

11 Apr 2017

Key Steps To Blitzing Tough Decisions

When faced with a tight deadline, many leaders just go with their gut. How can you avoid bad moves in decision-making, and feel confident that you are making the best decision?

  • Don’t rely on intuition alone. Overconfidence in your own intuition, can lead you to select data that supports your initial conclusion, rather than looking at the broader picture. Be more analytical and fact based in your approach.
  • Be aware of bias and realistically assess your knowledge of the situation, by bringing a range of data to the table. If you don’t have the time initially to get all the facts, be aware and open about this and factor it into your decision – allowing a review once a clearer picture is available.
  • Do a pre-mortem to deal with pitfalls before they happen. Look at why your decision may lead to failure, listing all the possibilities, and use this information to tweak the decision to avoid this outcome.
  • Review whether past experience offers a reliable platform to move forward from. Actions already taken can anchor subsequent thinking. Avoid the emotional response to believing previous decisions were correct and look from an outside perspective when addressing a new situation.
  • Be aware of emotional platforms that may sway your decisions. Open your eyes to blindspots. Understand who or what are the major sources of influence that may affect your objectivity.

 

Taking these extra steps when facing tough decisions can mean the difference between success and failure.

Leaders need to be aware that they may have surrounded themselves with people who think as they do. Everyone needs a challenger – so don’t shy away from opposition: embrace and encourage it for better decision-making.

If you are looking for a creative and ethical challenger give me a call on +61 (0) 2 9411 3900– The Decision-Making Maverick.

11 Apr 2017

How To Influence Decision Makers

Here is a wonderful article from Marshall Goldsmith, giving advice on how to be more effective in influencing up. Maybe there is an answer there for you too.

 1. Accept the facts

 Every decision that affects our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision, not the “right” person or the “smartest” person or the “best” person. Make peace with this fact. Once we make peace with the fact that the people who have the power to make the decisions always make the decisions and we get over whining that “life isn’t fair,” we become more effective in influencing others and making a positive difference. We also become happier.

2. Realise You Must Sell Your Ideas

 When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy. In many ways, influencing ultimate decision-makers is similar to selling products or services to external customers. They don’t have to buy–you have to sell. No one is impressed with salespeople who blame their customers for not buying their products. While the importance of taking responsibility may seem obvious in external sales, an amazing number of people in large corporations spend countless hours blaming management for not buying their ideas. A key part of the influence process involves the education of decision-makers. The effective influencer needs to be a good teacher.

3. Focus on contribution to the larger good – not just the achievement of your objectives

 An effective salesperson would never say to a customer, “You need to buy this product, because if you don’t, I won’t achieve my objectives.” Effective salespeople relate to the needs of the buyers, not to their own needs. In the same way, effective influencers relate to the larger needs of the organization, not just to the needs of their unit or team.

4. Strive to win the big battles

Don’t waste your energy and psychological capital on trivial points. Executives’ time is very limited. Do a thorough analysis of ideas before challenging the system. Focus on issues that will make a real difference. Be willing to lose on small points. Be especially sensitive to the need to win trivial non-business arguments on things like restaurants, sports teams, or cars. You are paid to do what makes a difference and to win on important issues. You are not paid to win arguments on the relative quality of athletic teams.

5. Present a realistic “cost-benefit” analysis of your ideas – don’t just sell benefits.

Every organization has limited resources, time, and energy. The acceptance of your idea may well mean the rejection of another idea that someone else believes is wonderful. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea.

6. Challenge up on issues involving ethics or integrity – never remain silent on ethics violations

The best of corporations can be severely damaged by only one violation of corporate integrity. Refuse to compromise on company ethics. Take action immediately.

7. Realise that powerful people also make mistakes

Don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level…” It is realistic to expect decision-makers to be competent; it is unrealistic to expect them to be anything other than normal humans. Focus more on helping them than judging them.

8. Don’t be disrespectful.

While it is important to avoid kissing up to decision-makers, it is just as important to avoid the opposite reaction.

Before speaking, it is generally good to ask one question from four perspectives. “Will this comment help 1) our company 2) our customers 3) the person I am talking to, and 4) the person I am talking about?” If the answers are no, no, no, and no, don’t say it!

9. Support the final decision.

 Treat decision-makers the same way that you would want to be treated. If you stab that person in the back in front of your direct reports, what are you teaching them to do when they disagree with you?

10. Make a positive difference–don’t just try to “win” or “be right.”

We can easily become more focused on what others are doing wrong than on how we can make things better. An important guideline in influencing up is to always remember your goal: making a positive difference for the organization. Focus on making a difference. The more other people can be “right” or “win” with your idea, the more likely your idea is to be successfully executed.

11. Focus on the future let go of the past.

One of the most important behaviors to avoid is whining about the past. Have you ever managed someone who incessantly whined about how bad things are? Nobody wins. Successful people love getting ideas aimed at helping them achieve their goals for the future. By focusing on the future, you can concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow, not what was not achieved yesterday.

In summary, think of the years that you have spent “perfecting your craft.” Think of all of the knowledge that you have accumulated. Think about how your knowledge can potentially benefit your organisation. How much energy have you invested in acquiring all of this knowledge? How much energy have you invested in learning to present this knowledge to decision-makers so that you can make a real difference? My hope is that by making a small investment in learning to influence decision-makers, you can make a large, positive difference for the future of your organization.

Source: This above article was written by Marshall Goldsmith, “11 Ways to Influence Key Decision makers”, April 30, 2015.

28 Mar 2017

Leadership Decision Making in a VUCA World

Today’s business environment is best described as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA is, quite simply, the expression of the fact that the rate of change is outpacing our ability to adapt.

As a result of this, businesses, industries and careers are disrupted faster than ever before. We have to seriously rethink about how we lead ourselves, others and our organisations. Old ways of leadership have to give way to newer mental models based on agility in decision making, critical thinking, adaptable learning, people orientation and responsiveness to change.

Whilst none of us is really in control of our environment, most of us are working hard to anticipate the changing conditions of our business.

In his series of blogs in HBR late 2010 – early 2011, the late former US Army Colonel Eric Kail outlined adaptive leadership tactics for operating in a VUCA world –

For Volatile Situations…

  • Communicate clearly
  • Ensure that your intent is understood

 

For Uncertain Situations…

  • Get a fresh perspective
  • Be flexible

 

For Complex Situations…

  • Develop collaborative leaders
  • Stop seeking permanent solutions

 

For Ambiguous Situations…

  • Listen well
  • Think divergently
  • Set up incremental dividends

 

While his advice was constructed within the context of small-unit combat activities in the military I believe it is easily convertible into applications for all organisations.

The antidote to VUCA is about moving from Volatility to Vision, from Uncertainty to Understanding, from Complexity to Clarity and from Ambiguity to Agility. This means exercising leadership in every aspect of our lives and exercising leadership means making wise decisions.

Adapted from: “Adaptive Leadership for the VUCA World: A tale of Two Managers”, Paul Kinsinger, June 6, 2016, Global Business Magazine

 

14 Mar 2017

Crazy Busy or Just Crazy?

Here is a wonderful letter and answer from my friend Dr. Sylvia LaFair giving advice on how to achieve a healthy balance. Maybe there is an answer there for you too.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

It’s summer and all the ads show people sipping lovely drinks at a pool or beach. Except me. Now, I shouldn’t complain. Life is good when you are busy? Right?

It’s just that I am over-scheduled, over-committed and overextended.

I am proud that so many people want so much from me. And yet, I am desperate to get some down time.

Now, don’t tell me to just stop and smell the roses. Actually, I have allergies so I would then just sneeze my head off.

What I need from you is a strategy that will go with my busy lifestyle. I need some kind words from you to tell me that life without stopping is normal and really a good thing. I need you to tell my wife and kids to leave me alone, that I am making the money so they can sit by the pool and sip lovely drinks.

I need you to tell me to keep doing what I am doing because it is the right way in business these days.

Can you please reinforce my crazy busy life model as a good one?

Signed,

Pooped

Dear Pooped,

You, sir, are on INTERACTION OVERLOAD. And the signs of this are to be both filled with pride and desperation at the same time.

The only thing I can do to be helpful is to give you the results of research that will prove you are truly crazy by being so busy!

Look, we are built to both spend and then renew our energy. Think of a pitcher full of clear lovely water. It is meant to be used and used up. Then when the pitcher is empty it needs to be refilled to replenish us with what is needed for growth and health.

Here is my BIG QUESTION for you: when you are left alone with your thoughts in a quiet time what do you think about?

For so many crazy, busy individuals there is a mighty fear about reflection and solitude. The fear is that what we will bump up against is the deeper, negative feelings we so often push away with work and food and all the other addictions that abound.

Here’s the bad news, dear pooped. Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power. Get busier and busier to avoid them. I think that may be what you and millions of others are doing. These feelings are like stuck plumbing (funny you named yourself ‘pooped’) and sooner or later they will build up so much muck they will eventually spill over and create a huge mess.

Better learn to live with yourself, with the solitude, with reflection time, with memories.

Mindfulness to the rescue. Learn to meditate and my dear friend Chade-Meng Tan has written a marvelous book to help you learn to look inside yourself, titled Joy On Demand.

Meng could have become a crazy busy guy, since he was one of the first engineers at Google. Instead he learned about balance and meditation and mindfulness, and he shares his wisdom with all of us.

And here is one more thought. If you are worried about some awful thing happening when you take time to be still, not to worry. Research by Kerri Smith in Nature magazine states that even in a do-nothing state the brain is still active. It is completing the task of integrating and processing your experiences.

So, take a break and let your brain do the work while you relax.

Best,

Sylvia

 

03 Mar 2017

10 Reminders To Live In The Now

1. Remember that habits are changed by practicing new behaviour. By practising new thinking every five minutes, you’ll soon began to master the art of present-moment living.

2. Do an honest assessment of your “problems”.
You’ll very likely discover that almost all your problems are really in your head and not located in reality.

3. Take time to be mindful of everything around you. Begin to look at your entire surroundings in a new light. Observe every detail on every face, every building and every project. If you do this often it will become a habit that will facilitate your being alive in every moment of the year.  

4. Change your attitude. Begin an attitude-redevelopment plan. That means practice enjoying everything you do.

5. Be specific about what you want and take action. Decide on one thing you would like to work on and do it today. Work at it daily, rather than making it a long-range objective.

6. Create a self-improvement agenda for yourself. Put on your agenda whatever activities you’ve always thought about but never had time to do. Do them now.

7. Rid yourself of mundane chores that are not really that important. Spend more time making your life a pleasure.

8. Eliminate procrastination as a lifestyle. Instead of talking to yourself about what you are going to do next week or even tomorrow, use this time to start a new task.

9. Don’t give up control of your life to others. You cannot enjoy the present moment if you are busy trying to make everyone else like you. People respect you more when you operate from a position of strength and self-reliance.

10. Feel good about yourself. You are a magnificent human being. Always feel good about that self that you are always with.

Source: Adapted from Hay House – Dr Wayne Dyer newsletter, 3rd January 2017

28 Feb 2017

What Causes Job Burnout?

According to the Mayo Clinic job burnout can result from various factors, including: 

  • Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job – such as your schedule, assignments or workload – could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
  • Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. These and related situations can contribute to job stress. 
  • Mismatch in values. If your values differ from the way your employer does business or handles grievances, the mismatch may eventually take a toll.
  • Poor job fit. If your job doesn’t fit your interests and skills, it may become increasingly stressful over time. 
  • Extremes of activity. When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused – which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
  • Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you may feel more stressed. 
  • Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you may burn out very quickly.

Can you relate to any of the above? Take action now and seek support before your health and relationships are affected. Remember, you have the power of choice, and it is your choices that will lead you out of situations that lead to burnout.

Job burnout is not to be handled lightly. To help turn things around, I’m offering the opportunity of an initial free 30 minute session where we can identify how to take control of your life and work towards a healthy and positive future.

CLICK HERE NOW!

This one off is only for my subscribers and valid until the 15th April 2017. 

15 Feb 2017

Who Is Your Competition?

This question seems so simple however a company that defines its competitive set too narrolwly can miss disruptive attackers and high potential growth opportunities.  Just take a look at Blockbuster, Nokai and Kodak.  They were all market leaders who fell pray to either disruptive technology or market changes.  How can your company avoid a similar fate?

Let me guide you:

1. Define your target/objective

Far too often, organizations make decisions too quickly and without a strategic context — it is a case of ‘ready, fire, aim’ The internet has not helped this mindset, as the speed to market has become a more critical factor. Understand what you are looking to maximise.

2. Ask the right question or questions

Experience has shown that ‘asking the right question’ is one of the hardest steps for management.  The key here is to understand what your business really wants, and how the insights uncovered will directly relate to a management decision or course of action.

3. Manage information effectively

The next driver for understanding what you have and don’t have within the business needs to come from studying the forces at work on your business’s competitive ability. These forces include competitors, technology, consumers, new entrants, industry trends and so on.  Getting information on these forces is the first step in becoming knowledgeable about your competitive environment.

4. Analyse for insight and intelligence

A strategic plan that doesn’t include insight about the near future is truly next to useless. Yesterday’s information and methods are increasingly ineffective for making today’s decisions — and even less effective for identifying tomorrow’s opportunities, problems and unknown competitors.

The value of insight is early awareness, as it enables you to recognise and monitor the future as it unfolds, thereby reducing risk and minimising mistakes.

Today, managers are faced with many pressures — they may sometimes seek only short-term gains — but costly mistakes from managers making uninformed decisions are no longer an option.

 Today, competing effectively is not just understanding existing competitors and the current business environment.  It is strategically about having a picture of what the future business environment will look like and addressing the following questions:

 

  • What business are you in today?
  • How will new technology affect you and your customers?
  • What new opportunities does the disruption open up?
  • What capabilities do you need to realise these opportunities?
  • What are you doing to protect your business performance when new and sometime unusual competitors are just now a click away?
  • Are you aware of the external changes that are going to take place in your industry and how it will affect the business’s performance?

 

How your business prepares this future will provide you with either a strategic advantage — or the demise of your business. The most critical strategic issue for a business is its competitiveness.

Looking for a mentor in strategy and competition for you business or division?  Give us a call (02) 9411 3900 or have a look at some of the projects we have worked on here.

16 Jan 2017

INSTEAD OF RESOLUTIONS

Here are 8 thought provoking questions as you start the new year:

1. What am I doing when I feel most beautiful, or when I have been at my best?

2.  What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on? (This is very tough question as originality is deceptively hard).

3. What are your superpowers? (tip – understand your strengths!)

4. What are you willing to try now that is new or different?

5. Say 10-30 years from now and looking back on your career, what do you want to say you have accomplished?

6. What would you include on your list of hoped for achievements?

7. In the next couple of years, what would you have eliminated off your bucket list?

8. What is your sentence?

Adapted from: Berger, W., “Find Your Passion with these 8 Thought-provoking Questions”, www.fastcompany.com, April 14, 2014

05 Dec 2016

Are You Making Better Decisions?

It is the end of the year so we thought we should point out three of the most common yet most harmful practices in decision-making in business that you should keep in mind – especially if you are looking to make plans for 2017 over the coming months.


1. Casual Benchmarking:
People tend to copy the most visible, and obvious business practices of a competitive organisation without understanding the underlying purpose behind it. Few companies undertake the research and analysis to have a thorough understanding of the reasoning behind a strategy  – is it the best strategy to improve your organisation’s performance? What would the possible downsides be? And how could you do it more effectively?

2. Doing what has worked in the past: Be careful to understand exactly why a strategy was successful previously. Is it relevant to the issue at hand, and is this strategy the best practice to resolve the current situation? Be aware not to confuse success in spite of an action as opposed to success because of an action.

3. Following deeply held but unproven beliefs: This happens when management believes something will work or that it matches some assumptions that are held about what makes organisations successful. These assumptions or beliefs will resist change and affect judgements and choices, regardless of whether or not they are true. Check whether your decisions are relying on intuition, personal or group beliefs or influencers who may have other agendas in play.

Avoiding these pitfalls can lead to competitive advantage and clear direction setting in the most difficult of times.

15 Nov 2016

Need To Overcome Negative Thoughts?

Here we are rushing to the end of another year – only 5 weeks to Christmas – and you may be questioning where has the year gone and what is going on in the world. So much change, so much to keep up with!

All this may be overwhelming and it may start to drag you down. You could start to feel sorry for yourself, or maybe you are worrying more, or questioning ‘what’s the point?’ On reflection, maybe you didn’t achieve what you wanted to in 2016 and maybe the world news are just putting you in a funk!

Negative thoughts can be toxic, can build up and quickly make us feel depressed, sad, lost and sometimes hopeless.

Here are a number of suggestions to overcome negative thoughts, which might help you move to a more positive frame of mind in readiness for the end of the 2016:

1. In every situation there is a silver lining – Ask yourself what is the one good thing you can identify in this negative situation? What is the one thing you could learn from this?

2. Replace the negativity in your life – What are the 3 top sources of negativity in your life right now? What can you change about these 3 sources? It is OK to take small steps when dealing with this. Alternatively you can keep reminding yourself of tip No 1.

3. Talk to someone – keeping negative thoughts bottled up is not helpful. Find someone you can share or vent with. And then see if you can together find a more positive approach to relieving the negative thoughts to move forward.

4. Are you making a mountain out of a molehill? – think through the negative thought. Are you making the issue bigger than necessary? Think would it matter in 3 or 5 years? What about next month? What would a friend or family member say? When we focus on a problem or issue, it becomes all encompassing and it no longer is in perspective. Asking yourself whether the issue is really in perspective is an important way ot manage negative thinking.

5. Be grateful for what you do have – this is my favourite No. 1 negative squasher! List what you have to be grateful for and remind yourself of these things for a week. Grow the list if you can every day.

6. What about going for some exercise? – Endorphins are a wonderful recharger. When you exercise, you body releases chemicals call endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain. These trigger a positive feeling in the body and improved self-esteem, providing a more positive and energized outlook on life.

7. Pay it forward – If you want to feel positive then bring positivity into someone else’s life. Do an act of kindness and/or generosity; give a compliment; help out, etc. By adding positivity to someone else’s life, you too can start to feel better and more optimistic again.

8. Start tomorrow with a positive tone – set yourself a reminder the night before of a positive action you are going to take the following day. Make sure you can see it clearly the moment you wake up. Repeat it to yourself a couple of times during the day if you want.  Savour it!

Each of these will help take those negative thoughts away. Give it a go – what have you got to loose??

Let me know which ones you think help you the most. If you want to talk about it more, give me a call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

08 Nov 2016

How Well Do You Choose?

The Power of Choice 

Every day we are faced with a myriad of personal or professional choices (some small ones – like what to have for lunch to important ones – such as should I quit my job and start my own business).  For each of these decisions or choices, we generally try to reflect on our options in a factual way and there are plenty of methods and tools out there to help with making choices – from throwing a coin to completing lists of pros and cons to undertaking heavy duty future projection analysis.

In this article though I want to talk to you about the emotional choices we have and the power we have in choosing our emotional response.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make your feel inferior without your consent”.  The key words here are “your consent”.  That is right, we choose how we interpret what other people say or do, we choose how we want to interpret events.  We may reject what someone says or we may take it to heart – it depends on how we view the situation and the person saying it.

How we view a situation and the people involved is of course dependent on the filters we have developed since birth – the language we grew up with at home, the support we received in school, our social interactions, to name a few.  These filters will either limit or expand what we see and thus impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. However how we wish to continue to experience any situation is really dependent upon our choices.

How can we change our choices or make different ones to those we have made in the past?

The first step is understanding the power of our thoughts, feelings and actions – in other words how we really show up in all the various aspects of our life.

There is no one magic formula that works for everyone every time, however if we acknowledge that our behaviour is based on previous learnings and experience, and that we are also constantly changing beings, each of us can look at the choices we make and be open to new learnings, new understandings and to developing a new story of our life!

So right now how can you lead a more conscious life?  What are the barriers to your success?  How can you remove these barriers and filters?  How can you make different choices?

To get you started download the free ‘Power of Choice’ template, click here! It provides some questions and strategies you might want to consider and reflect on.

If you want some support to better understand your filters or just want to touch base around the power of your choices, email me today!

 

07 Nov 2016

Get Your Free ‘Power of Choice’ Template!

To get you started, download the free ‘Power of Choice’ template. It provides some questions and strategies you might want to consider and reflect on.

Please enter your email address to have immediate access.


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18 Oct 2016

How To Develop Your Strategy in 4 easy Steps

I’m regularly astounded by the lack of process of many businesses when evaluating and developing good strategy.

I see businesses focusing their attention on the inside of their business, on their goals, leaving them little time to focus on the outside world, and their strategy.

This month I’ve reflected on the importance of looking outside, at your stakeholders – identifying who they are, understanding what you want from them, and knowing what they want from you.

Graham Kenny, my friend and colleague, wrote an article for The Harvard Business Review some years ago, which provided a simple step-by-step process to ensure you build a smart strategy aimed at achieving your business goals, and a competitive advantage.

A List of Goals is Not a Strategy

How many times have you sat with your management team or employees to develop your company, or department strategy only to find that you end up with a great list of generalised goals or objectives that include such things as:

  • % sales growth,
  • % profitability increase,
  • Become more competitive in existing markets,
  • Expand into new markets and regions.

There is nothing wrong with the list itself, in fact it’s a great list of what you might call goals, or key performance indicators (KPI’s) – however it’s certainly not a strategy, and won’t help you to ensure the long-term survival or prosperity of your organisation.

Rather than focusing on a narrow set of KPI’s and developing solutions that feed those metrics, stand back and take a broader, more holistic view of the competitive arena and organisational situation.

1. Identify which stakeholders you depend on for success.

Set time aside to identify the stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders etc) who are key to the long-term survival and success of your company. Without them, you have no organisation. So ensuring you satisfy them is crucial to your continued success.

2. Recognise what you want from your stakeholders.

Rather than launching straight into what you need to do for stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers etc, it’s important to stop and consider first what you want from these stakeholders. Remember as an executive, board member or CEO, your obligation is to act in the best interests of your company.

By understanding what you want, you will be able to identify more easily your objectives. Ie if you’re looking for sales and revenue growth, then that is going to come from your customers, where as productivity and innovation, or customer service will come from your employees etc.

This process will allow you to design meaningful strategies to get what you need from each stakeholder group.

3. Recognise what your stakeholders want from you. 

 When managers and their teams go too quickly into problem solving mode, they make assumptions about what their stakeholders want. As a result they end up with products and services that don’t sell.

If you want to achieve a competitive advantage, you must understand those things that your stakeholders want from you – and excel at them. Which leads me to the final point.

 4. Deliver the things that your stakeholders want – differently.

 In order to create a competitive advantage, you will need to excel at delivering what your stakeholders want from you, AND do so in a way that is different from your competitors. Once you know what you will do differently, and why it is of value to your stakeholder you can clearly define your strategy and build your brand around it.

Some ways to determine your point of difference:

  • Evaluate your competition and rate yourself and your direct competitors based on operational efficiency (price), product leadership and customer intimacy.
  • Identify areas where your competition is vulnerable and determine whether you can focus on those vulnerable areas.
  • Identify your key strengths and how they can be enhanced.
  • Evaluate what you want to be ‘known for’ in the future and design a long-term strategy to achieve it.

 

Reference: A List of Goals is Not a Strategy by Graham Kenny, published in the Harvard Business Review, November 19, 2014.

 

04 Oct 2016

Trivial Changes Produce Trivial Results

Recently I’ve been running a number of War Games with some interesting outcomes. I thought you would enjoy learning more about this powerful business tool!

For your information, while the military hones its strategies with role-playing simulations, a War Game is a fabulous way to understand business competitors.

What Is a Business War Game?

War gaming is a role-playing simulation of a competitive marketplace used either for general management training and team building or as a tool to explore and test competitive strategies for a specific firm to discover any weaknesses in a plan and to identify possible consequences of adopting such a plan.

Teams of players take roles and simulate the dynamics of a marketplace over a period of time. The idea is for participants to gain a perspective of the marketplace from outside their own firm.

Why You Need To Play War Games

If you want to gain genuine competitive advantage, you’ve got to do important things better than your competitors. War Games help you build competitive advantage in the highest-leverage function of all: thinking better than your competitors. War Games are about anticipating competitive moves before your rivals make them.

A War Game is a structured strategic exercise.

War Games allow you to understand unexplored or unforeseen strategic options. Most important, a war game will demonstrate to you the implications of your decisions months or years ahead.

Business War Games are an unconventional management tool. We draw on a wide range of business disciplines, including marketing, competitive strategy, competitive intelligence, and market research. We also draw from non-traditional disciplines such as social psychology, creativity, and innovation. A War Game identifies shortcomings in conventional management thinking, and provides real alternatives that work.

Two types of war games can be run for a business

The first uses a generic business scenario to educate managers generally in the process of strategic decision-making. It will put the participants in a safe environment in which they can experiment with radical thinking and gain confidence in their own decision-making capacity. The experience will also promote team building among the participants.

The second type of war game is tailored to the needs of a particular firm, mirroring its competitive environment in the war game setup. This type of war game is used to facilitate the firm’s strategic planning process. It may be run early in the planning process to indicate strategic directions or, alternatively, it may be run after the strategic plan has been formulated to test it for weaknesses and check what affect it is likely to have on the marketplace. Participants in this type of war game will also gain experience, which will build their confidence in decision making, same as with the generic war game. Similarly, a firm-specific war game will act as a team-building exercise.

You should consider a War Game when you are faced with:

  • A threat from current competitors
  • Imminent entry of new rivals
  • Industry consolidation
  • Change in the external environment
  • A threat from a new technology or a similar discontinuity

 

Would you like to improve your strategies and outmaneuvre the competition? Please email me today with any questions or concerns. I am always happy to help.

15 Sep 2016

What To Do When You have To Work With Someone You Don’t Like

You’re not alone!

Most of us at some point in time have to work or collaborate with someone we can’t stand.  A wonderful article by Peter Bregman was recently published in the Harvard Business Review on this very topic and I really liked the insights he provided to guide anyone on improving working relationship.

  • Accept that you are not going to like everyone.

It’s inevitable you will encounter difficult people who oppose what you think, believe and feel. Conflicts or disagreements are a result of differences in values.

That person you don’t like is not intrinsically a bad human. The reason you don’t get along is because you have different values, and that difference creates judgment. Remember not everyone is like you. If you can accept that not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone, then this realisation can take a lot of the heavy emotion out of the situation.

  •  Turn inwards and focus on yourself

It’s important that you learn how to handle your frustration when dealing with someone who annoys you. Instead of thinking about how irritating that person is, focus on why you are reacting the way you are. Sometimes what we don’t like in others is frequently what we can’t stand in ourselves.

Recognise the triggers that might be complicating your feelings. You may then be able to anticipate, soften, or even alter your reaction. Remember: it’s easier to change your perceptions, attitude, and behaviour than to ask someone to be a different kind of person.

  •  Check your own expectations

It’s not uncommon for people to have unrealistic expectations about others. We may expect others to act exactly as we would, or say the things that we might say in a certain situation. However, that’s not realistic. Expecting others to do as you would do is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.

If a person causes you to feel exactly the same way every time, check your expectations and adjust appropriately.

  •  Be compassionate with yourself

And remember: “Being compassionate with yourself is the key to being compassionate with others”

When you give yourself unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, you’re then able to give that to others.

Want to read the full article here

 

 

15 Sep 2016

10 Ways To Have Better Conversation

When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have good conversations. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.” Watch this delightful video below and I hope you have better conversations.

05 Sep 2016

5 Work And Personal Habits To Start Now!

Every day you make choices. Those choices create your actions. Your actions become your habits. And your habits define your life.

Below are some wonderful suggestions to get you started in developing good habits in your daily life, and to kick start positive change. You can always start any day, any time, a new habit. After all each moment in your life is new.

Work

  • Turn off your phone after hours – or one day per week. Let the important people know what you are doing, and ways to contact you in an emergency.
  • Check your emails only twice daily and let people know this in your email signature. This is what I do!
  • Have a clear agenda for all meetings, and set a time frame, both of which you communicate to the other participants. Practice this, until it works for you.
  • Have all participants turn off their mobiles so the focus stays on the meeting.
  • Start having “walking meetings”, especially when discussing a difficult topic – you’d be surprised how much easier it is to walk and talk, and the effect it can have on your relationships.
  • Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Make first thing in the morning your productive time, and switch off at night for a better sleep. Plan your emails taking this into account.

Personal

  • Turn off your mobile phone when out with friends – and get your friends to do the same. The focus should be on your time together.
  • Say “no” when something doesn’t suit or you don’t have the time to commit. Do it thoughtfully and offer alternatives.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day doing something for you – walking, reading a book, listening to music, whatever makes you feel good. Let everyone else know this is your time and you are not to be disturbed.
  • Start a gratitude journal – and write three things per day that you are grateful for.
  • De-clutter your life: select one task a week and do it! Do a before and after review to be clear in your mind what you have achieved.

Do you have difficulty creating new habits and sticking with your goals? Click here to get a complimentary one-on-one coaching session. This is limited to the first 5 people who book.

15 Aug 2016

Top 3 Barriers To Growth

When I came across the results of this survey I did not know whether to cry or laugh. Instead I remembered a saying my father used to say: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” And stay the same they have. These results are similar to survey results I had over 20 years ago. What am I talking about?

Held in conjunction with ‘AccountantsDaily’ earlier this year, My Business surveyed over 647 SMEs across Australia to get their take on what they saw as growth barriers to their businesses. Most (58%) said that they have been operating their businesses for 11+ years. We can say then that these businesses have been around a while.

So what were the top three barriers?

 1. Attracting new Customers – 34.2%

2. Availability of skilled staff or experienced managers – 14.9%

3. Competition – 10.5%

Each of these relates to the market or competitive environment. None of these are internal issues. If nearly 60% of your growth barriers are external why is it that business executives are so internally focused?

What does this say about the quality of strategic planning, marketplace knowledge and competitive thinking? Want to lower your barriers to growth? Then take the time to understand your competitive environment. Or you could give us a call.

 

 

 

15 Aug 2016

Coping With Ambiguity

A wonderful article about Competitive Intelligence by my friend and colleague Ben Gilad & Magnus Hoppe was published recently in the Harvard Business Review. Here is a brief overview of the article.

While mistakes allow individuals to learn and grow, they can also be very costly to any company. You may recall the Maggi’s Noodle Crisis in 2015 in India, which resulted in a loss of $277 million in sales, a five-month ban on Maggi and a cost of $70 million in the recall. The damage to the brand name was even larger – half a billion dollars. Paul Buckle, Nestle’s CEO, was quoted by Fortune as saying, “This is the case where you can be so right and yet so wrong… We live in an ambiguous world. We have to be able to cope with that.”

Nestle was not able to cope with that – but a competitor was.

Baba Ramdev, owner of the fastest growing local consumer goods company in India, took advantage of Nestle’s mistake by launching a product advertised as ‘healthier’ and at a lower price point than Maggi.

The really frustrating thing about the story above, is that so few companies learn from such mistakes.

So what can you do to avoid similar mistakes in the future?

According to Gilad and Hoppe, “we must start to think differently about how business, management, and strategic intelligence works. What companies today need isn’t meticulous plans, but to constantly reassess the business and its markets and competitors.“

How often do you reassess your business environment? How can different areas of management work together on creating insights that have real competitive implications?

Below are four radical changes that will get the ball rolling for you:

 

  1. Manage talent differently – recruit different mindsets. Self-hiring is indeed most dangerous in an ambiguous world.
  2. Use competitive intelligence differently – think of it as a process for organisational thinking to outsmart competitors in an ambiguous world.
  3. Work together – with decision makers for better outcomes
  4. Study personal use of intelligence – understand how intelligence is used to enhance organizational learning

Want to read the full article: https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-right-way-to-use-analytics-isnt-for-planning

How are you coping with ambiguity?

01 Aug 2016

Win/Loss Analysis: A Powerful Tool to Drive Strategic Growth

Why did we lose?

It’s the first question you ask when business goes to a competitor. So… Are you really focused on improving your business, or do you simply move on and try again with the same sales approach and techniques?

Conducting win/loss analysis is one of the best ways of generating the insights you need to increase revenue and grow your business. So why aren’t you doing it?

Win/Loss Analysis (WLA) is a cost-effective, insightful, and ethical method for gathering and analyzing information about your market, customers, and competitors. WLA identifies your customer’s perceptions of specific sales situations and how you compare to your competitors. It provides a window as to why a customer is buying or not buying your products and/or services. The analysis provides information about the performance of both your firm and your competitors. The insights can then be actively used to focus sales staff more effectively in the marketplace and also to inform research and development of products.

The Benefits of WLA:

  • Understand why you win and lose business
  • Learn which clients are or are not good prospect
  • Focus on product features customers value most
  • Improve implementation, training and services
  • Improve quality of customer testimonials
  • Improve sales professionalism

 

TOP 7 QUESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED

Answering these questions is the foundation to get the process moving in a fruitful direction.

1. What were the reasons we won/lost the last sales competition for… (a big client)?

2. Was our RFP response as effective as it could have been?

3. Are our prices truly non-competitive with our rivals? Or are other factors impacting client retention decisions?

4. How/ why can a rival keep beating us on bids for regional clients?

5. Are there opportunities to gain clients that we are not capitalizing on?

6. What operational changes do we need to make to better satisfy existing clients?

7. What changes can we make that will best empower our sales force in their daily efforts to win customers out in the field?

I have been involved with WLA since the mid 1990’s and have written about the subject since 2006. To this day, I do not understand why more companies aren’t conducting win/loss interviews, analyzing results and implementing lessons learned.

When WLA is done properly, companies gain valuable insights and are able to implement initiatives that helps them increase revenue and grow their business. It really is a win-win all around.

Interested in learning how to implement this tool, please give me a call or read this just released book by my dear friend Ellen Naylor dedicated to WLA. Check it out!

 

14 Jun 2016

The High Costs of Wrong Decisions

We know that companies who place a greater emphasis on information content in their business decisions will be those that face fewer surprises. In fact, getting the right information will be a key success factor for companies in the 21st century.

So why do so many businesses shy away from investing in some research about a new product idea, an acquisition, or business expansion opportunity, but will happily plunge ahead with a scheme and rack up million dollar losses when it turns out to be a dud! Why is it that so many companies keep making costly mistakes?
(more…)

14 Jun 2016

Does collecting more data lead to better decision-making?

Competitive, data-savvy companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix have learned that data analysis alone doesn’t always produce optimum results. In this talk, data scientist Sebastian Wernicke breaks down what goes wrong when we make decisions based purely on data — and suggests a brainier way to use it. This wonderful video addresses the difference between successful decision-making and unsuccessful decision-making —  with data. I highly recommend this video.

06 Jun 2016
Competitor Analysis

Understanding Your Competitors

In my experience, most companies and organisations tend to track what their competitors are currently doing. However you can’t really make a sound business decision about the future intentions of a competitor based on what has occurred in the past or on what they are currently doing. We all know that the way we operate today is not the same as how we operated a year ago – so why should a competitor be any different?

We need to uncover where they plan to go in the future.  Will you be taking sales from them or will they be taking sales from you – next quarter, next year or even two years from now?

To get a good grasp on your competitors’ real intentions, you need to delve a little more deeply.

SO HERE ARE SEVEN TIPS TO HELP YOU MONITOR YOUR COMPETITORS:

1. BUY THEIR PRODUCT
Always buy your competitor’s product, if possible, to determine their sales process and get on their mailing list to see future promotions. The relatively small price you pay for their product will pay for itself many times over in the knowledge you gain by finding out what they are doing and how they are doing it.

2. AUDIT THEIR WEBSITE
Drop by your competitors’ websites and compare their sites to your own. To go the extra mile, select Tools from the Microsoft Internet Explorer toolbar (if you are using Microsoft) and then “Show Related Links”. Here, you may uncover other companies, doing the same thing or in the same business. Changes to a website can also say a lot about a company. TimelyWeb, by EldoS (www.eldos.org), has several ways of notifying you when page changes occur, including via e-mail.

3. GET THEIR GOSSIP FROM YOUR SALES PEOPLE, DISCUSSION GROUPS, ETC.
Numerous discussion groups are the bars and pubs of the internet, where individuals meet online by sending emails to like-minded people. One of the popular ways to hunt through newsgroups is with Google Groups. Simply type in the subject you are interested in to sort through the web’s 20,000 Usenet discussion groups.  LinkedIn is also pretty good.  And remember to speak to your sales people, customers, distributors, suppliers, industry consultants, industry associations, journalists – to just name a few.

4. CHECK OUT THE CLASSIFIEDS
Is your competitor expanding? Is he or she going in a new direction? You might get a clue through help-wanted advertising. These listings can tell you more about what your competitor is planning.

5. READ UP ON PLANS AND FINANCES
Drop by your industry association’s Internet site. You may find additional information about a member who is your competitor. Perhaps they were interviewed for the association’s website or publication. If your competitor is a large publicly listed organisation, it is required under Australian law to file quarterly and annual financial reports and announce any activities that are likely to be of investor interest (that is have an influence on the share price).

6. ENGAGE A MONITORING SERVICE
By paying for an online monitoring service, such as eWatch, you can outsource the hassle of monitoring domain names, URLs, newsgroups, and websites for activity by your competitors. However, it will cost. Most online companies offer free trials so you can compare them before you commit. Clipping services, such as Media Monitors, provide a daily fax-stream of articles on chosen companies (or search terms).

7. HIRE A ‘BIG GUN’
With so much information available, competitive intelligence consultancies can help a company define what information will genuinely assist their business objectives. They can provide strategies to help a company collect, monitor and, most importantly, analyse information to deliver the necessary insights/intelligence.

Understanding what your competitors intend to do in your market is not hard.  It may cost you time, effort and budget in the first instance…….or you could compare that cost to potential market share loss, sales lost and customer shrinkage.  Can you afford not to understand your competitors?